By Sam Quinn CBS Sports
So what did we learn from Monday’s set of four Game 1s? Nothing definitively, but it should be noted that favorites covered all four spreads, and while only two of the four over totals hit, the average point total in the four games was 235.5. That’s higher than the line set in any of Tuesday’s games.
So we’re going to follow those trends for Tuesday’s slate. There are four games. Favorites stand out in the Eastern Conference. Overs stand out in the Western Conference. Here are today’s best bets.
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Orlando Magic: Bucks -12.5
Milwaukee won all four of the regular-season games these teams played by an average of 17 points. The Magic are without Jonathan Isaac, their best defensive option against Giannis Antetokounmpo, and their second choice, Aaron Gordon, is dealing with a hamstring injury. The Bucks just slept through eight seeding games, but they were the NBA’s best regular-season team for a reason. This is a complete and utter mismatch, and the Bucks will look to prove that their Disney struggles were nothing more than apathy. The real games start now, and the Bucks will want to make a statement here.
Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers: Heat -4.5
Yes, the Pacers beat the Heat on Friday, but that game had no stakes. The last time these teams played for real, the Heat won by 22. That won’t be the case every time they face off, but Jimmy Butler is a nightmare matchup for T.J. Warren, and Miami’s shooting provides a significant mathematical advantage over the 3-point averse Pacers. This will be a competitive series, but Game 1 belongs to the Heat as Warren continues to deal with plantar fasciitis in his foot.
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Houston Rockets: Over 225
The dirty secret behind Russell Westbrook’s absence is that, in the early stages of the postseason, it won’t mean that much. Since the trade deadline, Houston’s offense has only been 3.1 points worse per 100 possessions without him on the floor. Without James Harden, they decline by 15.3 points per 100. Harden is still here, though, and in place of Westbrook will, presumably, be more shooting. Harden with optimal spacing is going to produce plenty of points. Houston’s defense isn’t particularly trustworthy, but the point total here is far too low to pass up.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers: Over 230
The Blazers have topped this total in each of their past five games. The argument against them doing so again is that a superior defense will slow them down, but consider the reverse. If the Blazers couldn’t stop the Nets and Grizzlies … what on Earth are they going to do against the Lakers? No, they haven’t shot particularly well in Orlando, but Portland has no answer for LeBron James whatsoever. While we’re at it, the Lakers are without their best option on Damian Lillard in Avery Bradley. This is going to be a high-scoring series.